Lammo Gets Punched!
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“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives” -Lemony Snicket
- 12st 7lb weight (-4lb)
- 13.8% body fat (-0.3%)
- 22.8 BMI (-0.3)
- 86cm waist (-2cm)
It’s suddenly dawned on me – in ten days time, I’ll be stepping in the ring for Fight Night.
The VIP tables are booked.
My ring name has been chosen (John “Routine Machine” Lamerton).
I’ve picked my entrance music (Underdog, by Kasabian – big beats, plenty of swagger, and an opening line that boasts “kill me if you dare!” and announces that the “local loves a fighter, loves a winner to fall” – as someone who spends the majority of his time championing the “underdog” small businesses, and showing them how to defeat the big boys, this song choice was a no brainer!
There’s just two training sessions left.
There’s just ONE training session left (I’m missing the penultimate training as I’ll be in a Mastermind group with a room full of aforementioned small business owners.)
ONE session left.
I don’t feel anywhere NEAR ready.
But, as the quote I’ve opened this entry with alludes to, if I waited until I was 100% “ready” before doing things, I wouldn’t have achieved ANYTHING in my life.
I wouldn’t have jumped out of an airplane.
I wouldn’t have got my golf handicap.
I wouldn’t have taught myself how to grow small businesses.
I wouldn’t have written two bestselling business books.
I wouldn’t have recorded 60+ episodes of a podcast.
Ready. Fire. Aim.
So I’m ready *enough*. Ready as I can be.
I’ve brought my gym gear with me to the Mastermind meeting, and will be getting my workouts in.
I’m meeting Tom twice this final week for some last-minute sparring.
My diet is spot-on.
I’m in no way ready to fight someone who knows what they’re doing. But as long as the UWCB guys have matched us up fairly (they aim to pair boxers up by weight, then ability, then fitness – their aim is to have every match go the full three, two-minute rounds distance, and ideally for every match to finish in a draw on points.), I should be ok.
I find out my opponent next Thursday, just two days before Fight Night. Just as well – I couldn’t handle knowing beforehand – I’d be wasting every training session looking at what they’re doing, rather than focusing on my own game.
It’s the same thing I’m forever telling small business owners – “stop worrying about what your competitors are doing and saying. Focus on YOUR game.”
Stay in your lane.
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson
Tale of the tape –
- 12st 10lb weight
- 14.1% body fat
- 23.1 BMI
- 88cm waist
“We place these bowls all around the side of the gym. They are there for you to be sick into.”
What started as a nice idea ten months earlier, suddenly seems very real. I am going to be training HARD (past the point of vomiting it would appear!) for the next eight weeks, after which I will step into the squared circle, and face off against an as-yet unknown opponent, in an actual boxing match.
I am not a boxer.
I’m a forty-two year old business owner.
I write personal development books for REAL people.
I’m a lover, not a fighter – I’ve never punched another person in my life. I have been the lucky recipient of a black eye courtesy of a sucker punch from a Bristol Rovers fan after my team (Plymouth Argyle) had the nerve to score more goals than his team in a football match.
But even that was twenty years ago.
So how did I end up volunteering to take part in a real boxing match?
It’s all Jason (my business partner)’s fault. We were chatting about various sports, and the mindset and training routines required to be successful – and how we teach the same principles to business owners.
“My Grandad was a boxer”, announces Jase.
“Was he a pedigree, or a mongrel?” I jested.
No, it turns out that Jason’s papa, was a fully fledged, proper, old-school heavyweight boxer. This naturally led to us discussing whether the “punchy” gene had been passed along.
“We should do a white collar boxing event next year”, says Jase.
“Awesome! I love it!! Let’s do it!!”
Now, I have a rule when it comes to committing to things – if it makes it as far as my “goals board” for the year (a collection of images to represent all the things I want to achieve in the coming year), then I will do EVERYTHING in my power to make it happen.
If it’s on my goals list, it’s GOING to happen.
My 2019 goals board includes this little gem:
So here we are, or more accurately, here I am…
Jason has been told in no uncertain terms that he’s not allowed to be punched in the face (he’s far too pretty), so in his place, I’ve roped in Tom Boulden – a Director of Three Sixty Mortgages, one of the companies that we’ve invested in.
Tom’s a VERY driven guy (have a listen to our podcast interview with him here to discover how he dropped to low single digit body fat during a body building challenge a few years ago.
Tom started training 5 weeks ago. He’s already dropped a stone in weight. He’s been coached and has been sparring twice a week. That’s on top of his usual gym routine (7 to 10 sessions a week).
I’ve spent today eating cake, pizza and chocolate.
I’ve got an excuse – it’s my birthday. (I did mention I was 42, didn’t I?)
But no matter – I’m in training for a fight now.
The fight of my life.
Tom and I went along to the registration evening tonight for the Plymouth Ultra White Collar Boxing, to see the guys and girls we’re going to be training alongside, one of whom we’ll ultimately be stepping into the ring with.
Tom said after the meeting that he’d sized up the room – “I could have him; I’d love to fight him; that guy would be a great challenge.”
I too sized up my competitors..
“Don’t want to fight him; If he looks like that now, what’s he going to look like after 8 weeks of training; Can’t I fight one of the girls?; Not that one though – she could snap me in half!”
But it’s real now.
There’s no backing out.
I just hope they’ve got plenty of sick bowls around the place…
“80% of life is just showing up” – Woody Allen.
So this is it. Day one of training for the Plymouth UWCB.
In eight short weeks, I’ll be stepping into the ring with one of my fellow trainees, and punching seven bells of shit out of each other, all in the name of charity.
The road starts here.
There’s just one slight problem. I’m on a different road.
I’m on the M6, heading north to a business event in Chester, some 286 miles away from training in Plymouth. This was booked in my diary months before, and is one of my “immovable objects” (you’ll be hearing plenty more about these dear reader over the next few months), so reluctantly, I send a message to Andy, our rep from Ultra Events:
“Hi Andy – I’m away on business on Thursday, so can’t make the first training session (Don’t worry, I’m not a snowflake!) – Shall I arrive early next Tuesday to bring the forms, and get weighed etc?”
I felt the need to explain my lack of snowflake-ness to Andy, as I’m sure he gets shedloads of people who “fancy having a go at boxing” register for UWCB, only to disappear without a trace after the registration meeting (the mere mention of the sick bowls might be a reason!).
From my day job coaching small business owners, I know that most people just don’t do what they say they’re going to do. Sure, they’ve got the best of intentions, but when given a choice of Netflix in the warm, or sweating your arse off in the gym to the point of vomming… well, they take the easy path every time.
I pride myself on NOT being like that.
I’m NOT a snowflake.
I DO what I say I’m going to do.
I’ve looked at my diary for the next eight weeks, and worked out that I’m going to miss a total of four training sessions, out of a possible sixteen.
And I’ll make those four up, outside of the set hours myself.
I’m going to do the work.
I felt the need to explain this to Andy (in one sentence), and now to you, dear reader with many more words – because if you don’t know me, then what have you read on this blog so far?
That I’ve been stuffing myself with pizza and cake, and done zero training whatsoever.
But that’s me when I’m not in training for a boxing match.
In my book Routine Machine, I talk about the biggest impact for change being “going from ‘zero’ to ‘one’, from ‘off’ to ‘on’.”
On Day 0, I was this guy:
And on Day 1, I’m in training for a fight. The transformation will take a while before I look like this:
But like the Hitman, I’m either training, or I’m not.
And now I am.
My diet’s been spot on since Day 1 (yes, I know that’s only yesterday!) – my meals have mainly looked like this:
… and this…
And there hasn’t been a cheesecake, or pizza in sight. I’ve done a couple of HIIT sessions, and feel good going into my first “proper” training
You see, I’m a Routine Machine – that’s my secret weapon. Once I decide to do something, I will do it. I make a plan, and I stick to the plan. I’m gonna out-consistent everyone else.
Others will go harder. Others will put in more hours. But no-one’s going to be more consistent over the next two months than the “King of Routine”!
Because I’m a boxer in training.
I just haven’t actually done any training yet…
“One ‘oh shit’ can erase a thousand ‘attaboys!” – Scott Adams.
Still in Chester, I message Tom to find out how training went last night:
“Yeah it was good. Didn’t do any boxing at all, just pure fitness training. The good news is you can catch up.over the weekend. You just need to do about 200 burpees, 200 squats, 200 press ups, 200 crunches, 200 leg raisers and 200 tuck jumps lol ???????????? it was so painful”
“I sat in a garage and invented the future” – Steve Jobs.
Clearly, I’ve got some catching up to do – so on a chilly Sunday morning, I head into my garage, move the kids bikes and various half-used tins of paint that we’ve kept “just in case” we ever need the same colour we painted the living room twenty years ago, and start a workout on my trusty punchbag.
It’s a Lonsdale Omniflex Free standing punch bag, which I’d bought a few years earlier as part of a fitness drive (my only previous experience of boxing being on the Nintendo Wii). It’s held up very well over the years, mainly due to the lack of use, I’m sure!
I do a 24-minute HIIT session, consisting of the following routine:
45 second warm up.
Interval 1 – Jabs and crosses
Interval 2 – Body work
Interval 3 – Right crosses
Interval 4 – Left crosses
Interval 5 – Freestyle
Interval 6 – Jabs and crosses
Interval 7 – Body work
Interval 8 – Right crosses
Interval 9 – Left crosses
Interval 10 – Freestyle
Set 1 is 20 seconds work, 20 seconds rest.
1 minute rest between sets.
Set 2 is 25 seconds work, 15 seconds rest.
1 minute rest between sets.
Set 3 is 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.
And “relax” – this is an intense cardio workout, and (I’m hoping) will prepare me somewhat for the training proper in two days time. I intend continuing with the garage workouts on the weekends, when there’s no official training (which is Tuesday and Thursday evenings.)
“Welcome to the party, pal!” – John McLean, Die Hard.
“It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is – I will find it, and I will break you.”
Welcome to “proper” training. I thought I was pretty fit going into this – I knew that I’m not the strongest person, but my cardio fitness is pretty good, and with my go-to exercise being HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), I expected to be able to cope quite well with the cardio demands of training.
Within five minutes of starting, I knew I was wrong.
We were introduced to polar bear press-ups, chinese dragon press-ups, crucifix lunges, squats, squat jumps…
Oh, and burpees.
Lots of burpees.
Maybe 100 burpees?
Before long, I was swimming in a pool of my own sweat (which isn’t nice when you’re trying to do polar bear push ups, which involve your feet sliding all over the place as you plant your face into the pool of sweat using your shoulder muscles.
The training starts at 8:30pm, which gives you a bit of a dilemma – to eat, or not to eat? Eating afterwards (gone 10pm) is way too late for me. I’d usually eat around 7pm, but that’s far too close to training for my liking – I’d more than likely be making full use of the sick bowls if I eat at that time!
I opted for a nice light “chicken and broccoli” combo, which I ate just after 6pm – two and a half hours before training.
By the time 8:30pm rolled around, I was wishing I’d given it another half hour. Still at least I had a load of burpees to take my mind off the full-feeling!
After a brutal workout, we started to look at some of the basic technique that we’ll be needing to step into the squared circle on November 23rd. The correct stance; jabs and hooks; and a little shadow boxing.
All of which confirmed one thing – I’d been doing it wrong all these years.
Who knew that boxing on the Wii, and bashing a punchbag in your garage is no substitute for proper coaching?
Well, I do now.
Just as we were starting to enjoy a little training that involved pretending we were Rocky and throwing some punches, moving around the gym floating like bees and stinging like butterflies, it was time to stop.
And do some more burpees.
Followed by 100 star jumps.
And then finally…
“We’re finishing with 40 situps. Once you’ve done 40, do 30. Once you’ve done 30, do 20. Once you’ve done 20, do 10. For those who can’t count, that’s 100 sit ups – let’s go!”
So how was my first training session?
It was hard. Very hard. One of (if not) the hardest workouts I’ve ever done. But I can do hard. As I said, my cardio fitness isn’t too bad.
But technique? Oh deary me.
My feet don’t appear to be connected to my brain in any way. A simple box-drill routine (two steps forward, two to the right, two back, two to the left left me slipping in my own sweat, and tripping over my clown feet.
“You won’t be able to look at your feet during the fight.” said one of the coaches to me. “I hope to be a bit better by then!” I responded.
I was worried that training was going to be really tough – and it was. But I’m fine with that now.
My worry right now is that I have zero boxing ability. And whilst I still “hope to be a bit better” by fight night, I’ve seen no sign that that will be the case.
“Everyone is ready to win, few are prepared” – Jim Garrett.
The morning after the night before.
Today was an admin day. The VIP tables for our fight went on sale – I’d heard that they tend to get snapped up pretty quickly, and with around 80 people in our group, I wanted to make sure that we had room for all the friends and family who’d like to come and watch me be punched in the face.
To take part in an UWCB event (and qualify for the eight weeks free training), you have to commit to:
Selling at least 20 tickets to fight night.
Raising at least £50 for Cancer Research UK
Attending at least 50% of the training sessions
The VIP tables cost £400, for ten people. Standard tickets cost £25 per person.
Your UWCB rep will sell you a book of ten tickets, which you can then resell to your friends. Once you’ve sold two books of ten, you can buy individual tickets from your rep.
Alternatively, you can buy tickets from the UWCB website in any denomination – just make sure that any friends and family who buy tickets put your name down as the “who are you coming to watch?” question – otherwise the sales won’t be tracked to you, and you’ll still have to sell another 20!
For me, the easiest option was to take two VIP tables, paid for through my small business coaching business, which means we can entertain clients, prospects, family and friends – and “sell” those tickets in exchange for a donation to Cancer Research UK. Everybody wins! (Well, I might not on the night, but everyone else wins!)
When you register for White Collar Boxing, you’ll get a welcome pack at the registration event, and a link to set up a Just Giving page – this enables you to post links on social media etc to get sponsorship from your friends, and have it all tracked to you – both so UWCB know that you’ve met your minimum £50 sponsorship requirement, and also so that the highest fundraiser for each event can be recognised for their efforts.
So what equipment do you need for White Collar Boxing?
16oz boxing gloves
Men will need a box/jockstrap
UWCB will provide the following on fight night:
A vest (red or blue), with your name printed on the back (you can add a company logo for £50)
A note on head guards – we were told at the welcome meeting that we would need to buy them for sparring in training, but that UWCB would provide official ones on fight night. At the next session though, we were told that we wouldn’t need head guards for training as “you won’t be practising headshots in sparring”.
I’ll update this, dear reader as I know more!
Optional extras (for those who want to really look the part!):
Here’s everything I’ve bought to take part (I’ve linked to the exact products below)
“Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club.
It started as a tingle last night. A little tightness in my glutes. An aching down my side. I knew what was coming, but hoped that I would sleep it off.
DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) was here. And on a training day too. Oh goody gumdrops…
I message Tom and let him know.
I manage to make it through the day without the need for Ibruprofen, grab an early light meal (beetroot and coconut soup), which I’ve finished well before 6pm – lesson learnt!
And I needn’t have worried – there wasn’t a burpee in sight at tonight’s training.
There was still a world of pain, but no burpees.
Just sit ups, leg raises, flutter kicks, planks, spiderman press ups, v-sits, knee-highs, jumping jacks, crunches and a handful of other torture devices exercises – around 25 of each.
Once again, I became a one-man island, surrounded by a body of water consisting mainly of my own sweat.
And then it was time to do some boxing (before I was washed away in a tidal wave of perspiration).
We went through the box drill from last time, and I was pleased to note that I “got it” a bit better this time – only needing to look at my feet three or seven times rather than every time. I could mix in the jabs and crosses.
Coach Montana showed us hooks, and we worked that into the routine.
I was just getting my head around the difference between jabs, hooks and crosses when he announced we were now going to move onto uppercuts. Eek! Slow down mate, I’ve only just learned how to get my feet to go in the direction I want – I can’t handle another thing to think about!
Thankfully, Montana did slow down, and showed us exactly how to do the uppercut correctly, and we focused entirely on this – which after some very useful intervention from Coach Tom (“use your hips mate”), I suddenly realised – this is the same thing that Coach Ian (my golf coach) keeps telling me about my golf swing!
So I imagine I’m lining up on the first tee, take a practice swing, and… “not bad mate. Next time try not to hold an imaginary golf club”
I “get” uppercuts standing still. So we add in some footwork to this. It’s slow, clumsy, ineffective and clunky, but still definite progress from “Bambi on ice” last time.
And then Montana asks us to throw it ALL together – Jab, cross, uppercut, jab, uppercut, hook (I’ve probably got the order of that completely wrong – I certainly did in the gym!) – Sometimes it felt right, most times it didn’t – but again, I can see (and feel) progress.
And that’s what I want.
It’s what I coach business owners to do.
Constant, never-ending progress.
Identify where you are now.
Work out where you want to be.
Figure out a plan to get there.
Do the work.
It’s that simple.
But it’s not easy…
Speaking of “not easy”, it’s time for the finisher – our last 5 mins of cardio before being released.
“We’ll have to tweak it a bit ‘cos the floors really sweaty tonight”
Can’t think whose fault that is… *whistles*
So we finish with a nice 5 minute plank.
Not 5 solid minutes you understand – oh no, we get to break up the plank with some press ups, spiderman planks, leg raises and flutter kicks. Joy of joy!
You know when your star striker misses an open goal, and there’s a collective from the crowd? That’s the only way I can the “aaaaaaauuuurrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh” noise that comes from a room of 75 blokes and a handful of women all holding a plank for those last thirty seconds.
Especially when Montana told us there was only ten seconds left..
10, 9, 8…
7, 6, 5…
4 and a half…
Cue 80 people collapsing on the floor, in puddles of (thankfully no longer just my) sweat.
As our UWCB rep Andy posted on Facebook “You’d think it would get easier through the weeks too…nope! Gets harder, but you get better.”
I can live with that.
“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”
Tale of the tape –
- 12st 9lb weight (-1lb)
- 14.0% body fat (-0.1%)
- 22.9 BMI (-0.2)
- 87cm waist (-1cm)
All that work, for a one-pound loss? One centimetre less around the belly? A bodyfat percentage reduction so tiny you’d demand a recount?
This right here is why people don’t stick at things that are hard.
You do the hard work now, but you get the results later down the line.
It’s exactly what I expected.
It’s exactly what I wrote about in Routine Machine (my bestselling book on using the power of daily habits and routines to guarantee yourself results):
“When people see success, they see the money, the fame, and the talent. They don’t see the discipline, the failures, or the sacrifice. They don’t see the persistence, the disappointments, the hard work, and the dedication.
They see the effect, but not the cause….
Smoking a cigarette probably won’t kill you.
Smoking 20 cigarettes probably won’t kill you.
Smoke 20 a day for 40 years, though, and there’s a pretty good chance that it will kill you.
What you did yesterday doesn’t matter. What you do today doesn’t matter. What you do tomorrow doesn’t matter.
What you do every day matters. What you do routinely matters.
It’s ironic that all these things that create success in the long term don’t actually appear to be making one iota of difference in the short term. By the time you get the feedback from the changes, you’ve already done the hard work and the new routine is ingrained.
The “secret” to becoming a Routine Machine is knowing you’re doing the right things. Even when you don’t get instant feedback or instant gratification, you know that as long as you keep doing what you’re doing you will get the results. Just keep on the path and keep following the signposts.
It will take as long as it will take. But you know – you just know – that if you keep packing on the snow and keep rolling it down the hill of time, you are going to end up with a massive snowball at the end of it.”
And so it is with my UWCB training – by the time I see the results I want in terms of my “tale of the tape” measurements, I’ll have already done almost all of the work.
I know – I know that I’m on the right path. I know that as long as I stay on the path and do the work, I’ll get the results I want. And I know that there’s always a delay between doing the work, and getting the results.
When you know what to expect, you just follow the signs.
This way to results…
(ps. You can download a free chapter of Routine Machine here…)
“Like a lot of things in life, when you put the gloves on, it’s better to give than to receive” – Sugar Ray Leonard
The gloves are on!
This really felt like a monumental shift in training – sure, we started with the usual combo of a few hundred burpees, shadow boxing, press-ups (chinese dragons, polar bears, and bog-standard “normal” ones), as “Lake Lamerton” started to make its usual appearance on the gym floor.
We progressed to work on the various punches via shadow boxing, and Coach Gary showed us a couple of blocks that we could put into action.
“Hang on a minute guys,” says Gary. “Has everyone got gloves with them?”
Cue about forty pairs of eyes lighting up like kids on Christmas morning.
Forty people who had indeed brought their gloves with them, “just in case.”
“Those with gloves, go and get ‘em on. Partner up with someone who doesn’t have gloves.”
Yes! This is what we came for – what feels like proper boxing! Gloves on (well, 50% of us do), staring down at your opponent, as opposed to pretending that you’re fighting that imaginary guy in front of you – who never hits back, and doesn’t actually hit you in the mouth.
Not that we’re supposed to be hitting each other in the mouth at this point.
We’re kept a sensible distance apart so that no actual contact occurs. Though my sparring partner Louis and I have a few close shaves:
“Oops, sorry mate!”
“Argh, sorry I almost caught you there!”
I’m sure we won’t be this polite on fight night, when we’re trying to wallop ten bells of shit out of each other – but for now, we’re here to help each other get better – to perfect our blocks, and then unleash a counter – taking it turns to attack and defend each other.
I thought the cardio warmup was tough – but just throwing weak-ass punches and blocking as though your life doesn’t depend on it is actually really hard work – and the gloves just makes things hotter.
The thought of three, two-minute rounds of really going for it? That’s going to be TOUGH.
Coach Gary shows us the importance of punching with a straight arm rather than bent, and how to unleash a decent counterpunch immediately after a block. He demonstrates this with some “willing” volunteers, including Tom, who is given a new nickname – Meat. (It started as “Chunk”, until Tom pointed out that he’s not exactly carrying much in the way of fat!)
The volunteers get slapped around the face, pushed over, and generally used as crash test dummies.
I shuffle to the back of the room, just in case.
After another few rounds of sparring, Gary announces that he’s going to let us finish early because we’ve worked so hard.
“That won’t happen on fight night, though. If you clock off early on fight night, it ‘ain’t ‘cos you’ve worked hard!”
So, one final finisher (55 polar bears, 55 jabs, 55 chinese dragons, 55 hooks, 55 press-ups, and 55 uppercuts), and we’re on our way.
“Don’t forget your gloves on Thursday!”
Oh, don’t worry… we won’t!
“Health is not valued till sickness comes” – Thomas Fuller
Tale of the tape –
- 12st 6lb weight (-4lb)
- 13.7% body fat (-0.4%)
- 22.5 BMI (-0.6)
- 87cm waist (-1cm)
Urgh. Sniffle. Groan.
Yep, I’ve got a cold. It’s not quite reached Man Flu status yet, but I can’t afford to take any chances. I’ve got a business to run, two children to home educate, and I’m in training for the fight of my life.
I haven’t got time to be ill.
Thankfully, this cold has timed itself perfectly. I finish training on Thursday evening, and the first sniffle arrives Friday morning. I’ve got until 8:30pm the following Tuesday to recover in order to ensure I don’t miss vital training sessions (We’re starting sparring for the first time next week, so I definitely don’t want to fall behind!).
It won’t surprise you in the slightest to learn that the “King of Routine” has a go-to routine for killing colds.
When deployed at the first sniffle, this routine can usually stop them in their tracks, and kill them within 24 hours.
Unfortunately, I had a full day of back-to-back-to-back meetings booked for Friday, so I wasn’t able to fully deploy the routine until Saturday (I tried a half-arsed version, which involved drinking pints of Lemon and Ginger tea throughout the day).
Saturday morning, and it’s time to put the “Kill the cold routine” into full operation. This involves:
- Downing tools. I stop EVERYTHING, and spend the weekend on the sofa binge watching old episodes of Lost (in the vein hope the ending won’t be as bad as I remember it the first time around). My weekend workout? Cancelled? Catching up on emails? Nope. Reading? Nope. Cuddling up on the sofa with the dog, watching Sawyer and Locke running around the jungle? Yep!
- “JMsip” per day – This was first introduced to me by the “Juice Master” (hence the JM) Jason Vale, many many years ago, and is the first thing I reach for to kill a cold. The juicer comes out, and I throw in half an apple, half a lemon, and what can only be described as a shit-ton of ginger. Juice that. Pour into a cup, add warm (NOT boiling) water, and a spoonful of raw honey. If drinking it doesn’t make you pull a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp, then you haven’t put enough ginger in.
- Double my intake of water – I’m looking to flush this out. And I’m losing what feels like a pint of fluid an hour out of my left nostril, so let’s increase the water intake. I dial it up to around 5L per day.
- Saunas – I usually have one, 20-minute sauna per day. I dial this up to two, 25-minute sessions, and also add regular water to the coals to increase humidity, and send some steam through my sinuses and flush them out.
- Sleep – I already prioritise sleep, and aim for 8.5 hours sleep opportunity each night usually. I dial this up to 10 hours in bed, which should give me a good 9+ hours shuteye, and more restorative REM and deep sleep. My sleep quality is affected by the fact I can’t breathe properly, so I dial up the duration.
- No pills. I want my body to heal itself. I don’t want to simply mask the symptoms by popping painkillers, and then have my body waste vital energy digesting and processing foreign objects full of chemicals. Yes, it hurts, but it’ll hurt for less time if I let my body deal with it rather than GlaxoSmithKline or Beechams.
I’ve got three and a half days before our next training sessions. Given how hard training has been, I’m really worried about whether the vomit bowls might be needed again – From flaked out on the sofa to knocking out hundreds of burpees in three days?
We’ll find out on Tuesday…
“Getting punched in the face with a padded glove doesn’t really hurt your face. It doesn’t hurt your skull. The only thing it hurts is your brain. You can feel the brain injury happening. It’s an instant headache.”
– Jonathan Gottschall
It’s happened. I’ve been punched in the face!
Not only that, but I’ve punched someone else in the face. Intentionally. (Though I did immediately apologise – an automatic reaction I need to train myself out of!)
My “Kill a cold” routine did the job – I felt human again by Sunday, almost normal by Monday, and (just about) up to pushing myself to the limit at training on Tuesday. Don’t get me wrong – there’s no way I was running at 100%. I struggled to breathe at times. My recovery times were slower. My reflexes were as slow as an oil tanker.
Just as well we weren’t starting to do some sparring tonight then?
“Have you all got gloves and gumshield?” says Coach Gary after beasting us with “seven minutes of hell” (1 minute of star jumps, 1 minute of burpees, 1 minute of press ups, 1 minute of leg raises, 1 minute of knee highs, 1 minute of mountain climbers, 1 minute of squat jumps – with zero rest between sets!)
“Hell yes!” says the group.
“Go and put ‘em on then!”
We’re shown how to spar correctly, and then sent to it. “Partner up – let’s go!”
Ten seconds later, and I’ve been punched in the face.
It feels ok.
I shake the cobwebs off, and go again.
And I get punched again.
“You, in the green gloves – get your hands up!”
Sure enough, the main reason I’m getting punched in the face so much is that I keep dropping my guard. Instead of protecting my face, and keeping my hands glued to my cheeks to absorb the blows, I’m trying to pre-empt the punches coming, and bat them away, at arm’s length.
Every time I do this, I present a nice juicy target of my face to my opponent, and I get punched. I get punched on the chin. I get punched on the nose. The eye sockets get a few blows, as do the side of my head.
One of my sparring partners tries his best to coach me.
He’ll punch me in the face, and then yell at me – “get your hands up!”
I put my hands up. Tap his gloves with a few jabs, and then ten seconds later, my guard has dropped again, and *blam!* “get your hands up!”, *pow!* “get your hands up!”, *kaboom!* “get your f***ing hands up!”
I think I need to work on getting my hands up!
The following day, I’m in a world of pain. I’ve got a permanent headache, and toothache, mainly due to the number of blows I took last night. I’m in a Mastermind meeting in Solihull, so trying to function and focus on bringing my A-game to my businesses.
All I can think of is “I’ve got to do this again tomorrow…”
Tomorrow comes, and we’re sparring again.
It’s a LOT better this time.
We start by doing some drills – One person is punching, the other is defending. We swap roles, and then finally do some “proper” sparring. We change partners, and do it again – one attacking, one defending, swap, and then spar.
I find I’m blocking more of the blows now. There are some guys who are clearly well ahead of me in terms of technique, and they’re able to manoeuvre me into the position they want, and get through my guard. But in the main, I’m blocking more than I’m getting punched.
And more of my punches are landing too. I’m no longer just throwing some combos and hoping for the best. I’m looking for the gaps and opportunities. One partner I worked with was good. He was very good. He tagged me with some powerful punches. But the more I worked with him, the more I spotted that he left bloody big gaps in his guard. So I filled those gaps with my gloves, and managed to land a few good punches.
We look at creating angles by moving around our opponent, and finally lost the gloves, and exercise with a partner – try and touch their shoulder, whilst they’re trying to touch yours. Whoever gets touched first does five burpees, then go again. Repeat for ten minutes.
The session flys by, and before you know it, we’re on the “finisher” – ten minutes of core exercises. I hate core exercises. They hurt. They hurt a lot. But they won’t hurt as much as getting punched in a flabby core on fight night, so I suck it up.
It’s only ten minutes.
9 minutes in, and Coach Montana announces “ok guys, just one more exercise.”
Thank f*** for that, we’re all thinking.
One hundred situps. Soon as you’ve done them, you can go.
I should know to expect this by now, but it’s still a hammer blow. But there’s a big lesson here – when you think you’re done; when you think you’ve got nothing left in the tank, nothing left to give – you CAN dig deep, and find that last drop of fuel, and get it done.
98… 99… 100…
“When You Step Your Game Up, Your Life Will LEVEL UP!” – Jeanette Coron
Tale of the tape –
- 12st 7lb weight (-3lb)
- 13.8% body fat (-0.3%)
- 22.7 BMI (-0.4)
- 86cm waist (-2cm)
The wobbles are here.
It’s almost exactly a month until fight night. I’m halfway through the training. And I still feel like my arms and feet aren’t coordinated with each other, or connected to my brain in any way.
We’re spending the majority of training sessions doing sparring, which is even more draining than pure cardio – and I’m still getting punched a lot more than I’m punching. I woke up this morning with bruised ribs, a slight toothache, and a bright red left ear.
Why do I have a bright red left ear?
Because as soon as I get punched, I instinctively move my head to the right to protect my face. Presenting my left ear as a nice juicy target for my opponent.
Every week, I can feel the training level up – I just feel like I’m two weeks behind everyone else, and constantly playing catch up. It doesn’t help that I’m going to miss both sessions next week, as I’m travelling up to Leicester to record the audiobook for Routine Machine.
Thankfully, Tom has offered to meet up for some sparring sessions outside of the UWCB official sessions, and I’m taking him up on this, as I really can’t afford to fall any further behind – as the class level up, I need to try and keep pace with them.
This is why I’m wobbling – I feel like I’m not good enough. I feel like I’m going to get knocked out in the first round (if not the first ten seconds of the first round). I feel that I’m not going to raise any money for Cancer Research UK. I feel that I’m going to embarrass myself in front of my friends and family.
All of which could happen.
But it’s unlikely – especially if I put the work in.
Because it’s in my power to affect all of that.
I know what I need to do. I just need to DO THE WORK.
Yes, the next week or so is going to be tough – It starts with a carbolicious meal at Five Guys tomorrow night (thankfully, I’m meeting the legend that is Invictus Games gold medal winning athlete Mark Ormrod for this meal, so I also get a chance to pick his brains on boxing training, perseverance, and positive mental attitude.), then I’m going to be spending the best part of a week living in hotels, driving the motorways of England, and sat in a recording studio reading from an iPad every day.
But I’m training for a fight.
So I’ll be taking my gym gear, and I’ll be in the hotel gym every day. If the gym’s closed, I’ll be doing workouts in my room. I’ll be taking a load of “on-plan” food with me to avoid making stupid decisions due to hunger.
Yes, I’m an author on the road, sat in a studio recording an audiobook.
But I’m also a boxer in training.
So when I want to spend a week on the road like a boxer, I ask myself what would a boxer do?
What should I eat? What would Mike Tyson eat?
How should I train? How would Anthony Joshua train?
How should I recover? How would Rocky Balboa recover?
Just asking yourself that question – “What would __________ do?”, and inserting the name of the person you want to be like, is so powerful. You know what they’d do.
So just DO what they’d do.
It’s a knockout strategy!
“The Pain You Feel Today Is The Strength You Feel Tomorrow” – Stephen Richards
Tale of the tape –
- 12st 8lb weight (-2lb)
- 13.9% body fat (-0.2%)
- 22.9 BMI (-0.2)
- 88cm waist (-0cm)
Not only do those measurements hurt (5 weeks of bloody hard work, for no significant movement), but so do the reason for those figures:
The bruised ribs I mentioned in my last entry.
Nine days have passed now since I took a punch to the ribs in sparring, and the pain is only just starting to ease – it’s a good job this injury has coincided with my trip to Leicester to record the audiobook, as there’s no way I could have taken part in training anyway this last week.
I yelled in agony when I walked down the stairs too quickly, so situps, burpees and sparring were out of the question.
Four days on the road, and three nights in a hotel didn’t help either – although I managed to keep my diet absolutely spot on (It’s what Mike Tyson would do, after all), my sleep was considerably worse than normal (I really don’t sleep well in hotels), and I spent most of the day, every day sat on my arse – either in the car driving, or in the recording studio, narrating.
But that’s in the past. I still have three weeks until fight night, and plan on giving myself the very best opportunity to do myself proud – or at least to avoid embarrassing myself too much!
And so it is that I sneak in an extra session outside of “normal” training, to spar with Tom.
Unfortunately, Tom and his wife were involved in a serious car crash a few weeks ago, and so Tom has had to pull out of this event – UWCB have understandably allowed Tom to postpone all his sponsorship, and take part in the next Plymouth White Collar Boxing event in March.
And so it is that Tom and I meet up on a Sunday morning, to do some sparring (where I keep well away from Tom’s head concussion, and he stays well away from my bruised ribs), and Tom gives me some pointers:
- He shows me a “double-jab” combo that I can work into my repertoire.
- I need to focus on landing punches, not POWER!
- I need to stop broadcasting what I’m about to do.
- Tom shows me how to pivot to escape my opponent.
- I need to use my hips more.
- I should focus on body shots over head shots.
- Tom shows me how to parry basic jabs.
- We work on a combo, then escape routine.
- I seem to jab at the body, when I should be hooking.
Not *too* much to work on then!
Tom’s help is invaluable, as I’m really starting to worry about what I’ve missed in training this week – in my mind, every other boxer will have come on in leaps and bounds – whilst I’ve gone backwards. Sure, I’ve managed to do some press-ups and squats in my hotel room (as the ribs allow), but that’s no substitute for the real-time feedback of getting punched in the face.
I guess I’ll find out on Tuesday…
“Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway” – John Wayne
OK, now I’m worried.
Today’s sparring session started well enough – the ribs are 95% healed, and I just let each of my sparring partners know to stay away from them. We eased in with a bit of shadow boxing, and then “light sparring” – no real contact in terms of power, but just finding opportunities, and creating angles against your opponent.
I was able to implement a lot of what Tom taught me on Sunday, and landed several “double-jabs”, worked the body a lot more, and managed to complete a few combo + escape manoeuvres.
And then we started “proper” sparring.
The heavy hitters came out.
The very first words I wrote on this blog came back to haunt me – “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.
I start falling back into old habits, throwing weak, easily-telegraphed jabs. I drop my guard regularly. I stay rooted to the spot. And any resemblance to a plan goes right out of the window when I get punched – even if I block a punch, I seem to stay in my defensive stance, allowing my opponent to just keep punching me.
Which they do.
I do better against some partners than others – and that’s rapidly becoming my strategy for fight night – “I hope I don’t fight that guy!” Sadly, the list of “guys I hope not to fight” is growing longer by the day…
By the time we’ve been sparring for around 40 minutes, fatigue is well and truly kicking in – one partner gives me some advice – “throw snappier jabs – I can see them coming a mile off!”, but even keeping my hands up in defence is hard work by this stage, let alone throwing some nice snappy jabs!
Finally, I’m teamed up with a guy whose shirt is covered in blood. “Is that your blood?” I ask. He confirms it is, which makes me feel better – I haven’t bled yet. And I might stand a chance against this guy now his nose is busted.
Three minutes later, and I have indeed mostly held my own against him, when I throw a cross, and get clobbered with a left hook, right on my temple. I drop to a knee, and hold onto the wall for support as I go to stand up.
“Are you alright mate?” my opponent says. (I hope he has the same courtesy and restraint on fight night, rather than “FINISH HIM!!”)
“Yeah, I’m fine mate,” I reply, spitting out my gumshield. “I’m just seeing two of him,” I say, pointing to a guy sat in the waiting area.
Sure enough as I look around the room, I’m seeing two of everything. So this is what seeing double is like! If this was a Loony Tunes cartoon, there’d be birds circling my head and tweeting at this point.
I decided now might be a good time to sit out the last few minutes of sparring, and just join in with the core exercises for the finisher.
As I do my ninetieth sit-up of the evening, Andy announces that we’ve been partnered up with our opponents for fight night. We won’t find out who until two days before the fight, but I can only hope that Andy’s been paying as much attention to the “guys I hope not to fight” list as I have…
Later that evening, as I sat in the sauna, I rubbed my nose, and noticed that my hand came away covered in blood – both dried and fresh.
“haven’t bled yet”?
That’s another box ticked…
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John released his first book “Big Ideas… for Small Businesses” in 2017, and it shot straight to the #1 bestseller list for Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Amazon, outselling books by Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne combined.
Since then, it’s sold thousands and thousands of copies all over the world, and attracted more than 100 five-star reviews. But more importantly, it’s changed the lives of small business owners all over the world, who now understand that running a lifestyle business isn’t a bad thing.
I think you’ll like it…
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